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Can’t make it home for Christmas? Neither could Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus

David Jeremiah
Pastor David Jeremiah. |

If you haven’t heard it already, you will soon — the velvety voice of Perry Como singing “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.” Even though it was released in 1954, it still shows up on lists of favorite Christmas songs. And why not? Wherever Christmas is celebrated, making it home for that celebration is a universal theme. 

I can prove it. Some of you may be like me — old enough to remember the Folgers coffee Christmas commercial from 1985, which was reprised in 2009. The theme was clear: Nothing says Christmas like family making it home in time to be together — okay, and having a cup of coffee to start the day. 

No doubt Folgers picked that theme to sell their coffee because it is instantly identifiable and embraced. Making it home for Christmas has been, if at all possible, an annual goal for families who are separated. As Perry Como told us in song, “For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home!”

Still not convinced? In 2019, it was estimated that more than 115 million Americans traveled during the Christmas holiday season by car, train, or plane. In a normal progression of events, we might expect that number to be even higher this year. But we are in a “new normal,” aren’t we? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will no doubt be far fewer of us making it home for the Christmas holiday.           

But wait: There are two ways to think about the phrase, “Make it home for the holidays.” First, there is the traditional way — traveling back home and joining family and friends for the celebration. But there’s another way: Make “it” — the place where you are, wherever that place is — your “home” for the holiday.            

Is that possible? It certainly is! And given the number of us who may not be able to travel to our traditional home this Christmas, perhaps we can think creatively about what “home for Christmas” really means. 

Here’s the key: Christmas means celebrating Christ. So wherever He is, we can celebrate Him. And if He is living in us, wherever we are this Christmas can be our holiday home.          
If you’ve never read Robert Boyd Munger’s 1951 devotional piece, My Heart Christ’s Home, I suggest you track it down online and read it. It beautifully illustrates the biblical idea that Christ wants to make our heart His home (Ephesians 3:16-17; Revelation 3:20). So even if we can’t be in our family home, we can still be at home with Christ for Christmas regardless of where we are.          

The very first Christmas is the best illustration I know of how to be away from home and “at home” at the same time.       

Think about it: Mary and Joseph were far from their earthly home on that first Christmas. They were separated from all that was familiar and comfortable for them in Nazareth. They had traveled some ninety miles to Bethlehem with Mary on the verge of giving birth. And even when they arrived, the best they could do to create a home was to sleep in a stable — possibly a cave where animals were kept. Joseph, being a woodworker, would no doubt have made a crib in Nazareth for their baby. But in their Bethlehem “home,” they had to lay Him in a manger — a feeding trough for animals.

Yet think of the joy they experienced when the Christ-Child turned their stable into their very own Christmas home. The angels rejoiced; the shepherds rejoiced; and when the Magi arrived later, they rejoiced and worshiped as well. The presence of Jesus made all the difference. Home was wherever Jesus was. And the same can be true for us.             

And consider Jesus himself. He left his heavenly home and came to earth to make it possible for us to return to our eternal home with him. Truly, Jesus is our home — whenever and wherever we are. If you are facing the possibility of being separated from loved ones this holiday season, know that Jesus sees you, he’s with you, and he’ll always be your home away from home. 

Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than fifty books.

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